The paper trail following the solar contractor company, Southern California Home Improvement Center, showed that solar scams could be present across California with no repayment to deserving customers. The company has sold to at least two other homeowners in the Coachella Valley, according to Owens.
In 2016, solar salesmen knocked on Kathy Owens’ door and sold her a system she said didn’t work. Southern California Home Improvement Center is financed by Renovate America which has been under government scrutiny as far back at 2017.
The Wall Street Journal reported in an article, “FBI agents are seeking documents that show how Renovate America marketed its financing to homeowners, trained its sales force and outside contractors.”
When NBC Palm Springs reached out to the FBI about the status of the case and the involvement of Southern California Home Improvement Center, we did not receive a response.
In a phone interview with Emeline, an employee with Southern California Home Improvement Center, she confirmed she worked with the company and that the company was located in Panorama City.
Emeline later said the company was closed and that she would have the owners call us back regarding questions on the FBI investigation. She then hung up and we never received a follow-up call.
The address (https://www.yelp.com/map/southern-california-home-improvement-center-los-angeles) of the now “closed” Southern California Home Improvement Center in Panorama City has now transformed in to a new company, American Renovation Center, which also works with Renovate America.
In a phone interview with Renovate America, an operator said, “We can not provide you any information,” regarding the FBI investigation.
Meanwhile, an ex-employee of Southern California Home Improvement Center for four to six months, Eddie, who only provided his first name, now works for Southwest Solar, another company in California. Eddie could not confirm the owner of the company or if it would pay back deserving customers.
Owens said salesmen provided her with a Southwest Solar business card before selling her the defective panels, she said. The three employees with Southwest Solar denied any connection between their new company and Southern California Home Improvement Center despite Owens’ physical evidence of the business card and contact numbers.
The previous owner of Southern California Home Improvement Center, Beni Zohar Amir, has owned several other home improvement companies prior to Southern California Home Improvement Center. His license is currently suspended, according to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).
As companies utilizing the help of Renovate America continue to open and close, customers like Owens paying her normal energy bill in addition to her bill for solar panels recommend being very cautious.
Renovate America did not comment on this story before air-time.